Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Race Report: Castlewood Cup

It was sunny, windy and about 39 degrees on Saturday for the race.  I did a little under a mile warm up at a comfortable pace.  I was ceded in the third heat for the race (there were about a hundred in each heat).  We got the horn and I started weaving my way through people to get some open ground.  The race start in a field and wound around for a few minutes before hitting the first of three climbs.  The first climb was pretty rocky, a lot of loose gravel, but it wasn't too steep.  The hardest part was getting around people.  It flattened out for a minute before kicking up again.  After that we headed out into single track.  I was at the back of a line of about eight people and the opportunities to pass were limited.  I got around two as we wound through the woods and back down.  Once we hit the bottoms again, it opened up and I was able to move in front of most of the people.  We had a water station just before mile three and the second climb.  I grabbed a cup and walked a few feet before heading up the hill.  I had already decided I would walk the second and third hills to maximize my energy.  The second hill was long and wound around.  I knew there was a bench at the top and was happy to see it.  I was able to start running again.  We began our descent and hit a water stop around mile 5.  I took a GU, walked the stop and had some fluids before starting again.  The next few miles were simply a blur.  I know I ran, I know I walked a hill, but I truly don't remember much else except tripping twice and recovering before I face planted.  I had found some strange running zone and was just going with it.  Around mile seven we began to descend.  I could hear the announcer and music and knew we were closing in on the finish.  I felt tired but good, and in hind site, may have pushed too hard then.  We came out into the clearing I knew we hadn't seen mile marker 8, but I got a bit giddy about being close to the finish.  Then we wound back into the woods.  It was here that I walked for about 100 paces.  I started running again and made the creek crossing and made my way through the woods to cross the road.  I really hoped the finish was soon, but no such luck.  We wound around the same way we did for the start through the field.  I don't know know if it was my mind or my legs, but I walked.  I went through about three phases of walking in that last mile.  When I finally saw the finish line, I was able to start running again.  My splits were as follows:

My overall pace was 9:15.  I went back and looked at Pere Marquette in December--the terrain there was a bit hillier, but it was a shorter race.  My average pace for it was 9:48.  I was pleased with everything except my last mile for this race.  I just didn't feel like I "had it".  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Race Report: Run for the Chocolate

Sunday was crazy cold--18 degrees with a wind chill of nine at race time.  The sun was shining though, so that seemed to help some.  I didn't warm up very long pre-race, choosing to hang with Steph instead.  I question whether my short warm up hindered me, but I am happy with the choice I made.  The good thing I did do was to make sure I started at the front of the field.  There were supposed to be more than 1,000 runners there and I didn't want to have to weave in and out of a lot of people.  So after a good luck hug from Steph, I made my way to the front of the pack.  My goal for the morning was to run sub 24.

The horn blew and we were off.  I tried to gauge how fast the runners were around me and who I should try to pace off of but it was hard.  I just tried to concentrate on finding a pace, rhythm that was comfortably hard for me.  I found a good stride and just focused on moving forward.  Within no time we hit the water table at .5 mile, I still felt really good and pushed on.  The race was really fun for me in that I knew volunteers at almost every intersection, and having them cheer kept me smiling even it when my legs started to hurt.  At the one mile mark, it was hard not to look at my watch, but I wanted to run the entire race on feel and see what I could do.  It felt like forever from mile one to the turn around. 

I made the turn and started heading back.  I started feeling very fatigued, but told myself to look forward to seeing everyone I knew on the way back.  I passed Steven and he told me I was in 7th place for the women.  I knew I had to keep pushing.  At the two mile marker I wanted to stop and walk so badly because I was just tuckered out but I knew I was sitting in a good spot. It was about then I came up on Lauren and Matt.  Lauren began yelling for me just like she did at Louisville.  For the moments I heard her, my legs felt incredibly light.  Matt even grabbed my arms and "escorted" me for a few meters.  It's so awesome to have cheerleaders along the race course!

I made the left turn to head back over the highway and a girl passed me.  I tried to push to stay with her, but couldn't hold on to her.  After that it seemed like just a snap to .5 mile to go mark.  Once I saw that I knew I could keep going.  After the highway I made the right to the finishing straight and another woman came up along side of me.  There was about 400 meters left and I tried to stay with her--that only lasted for about 50 meters and I couldn't push any harder.  I saw the clock at that point and realized that it was at 22 minutes and just focused on finishing out.  My time was 22:41.  I ended up 2nd in my age group (56 in AG), 9th in women and 31st over all (846 racers).  My splits were pretty consistent, 7:20, 7:24, 7:25 and 7:00 for the .1. I'm amazed at how I did.  I would have never thought I could maintain a sub 7:30 pace that long.  I'm incredibly happy with my results

Sunday afternoon I looked up my last 5K time from October, 2008, it was 25:02 and at that time, it was my PR.  I've come a long way in less than four years, especially considering I haven't been focusing on the run at all.  I have another 5K coming up in two weeks, I'm hoping I can sustain my success through it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Race Report: Nippy Niner

Off and running! *Photo credit: Brent Newman
I don't know what's come over me the last few months, but I've been enjoying my running more and more--including racing again.  I'm guessing that, and a little persuasion, was what talked me into the Nippy Niner.  The race was up at Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area, the same location as our Wednesday Night Time Trials.  I had never realized there were off road trails up there, but they are beautiful.

The drive up to the race was dreary.  There was a heavy mist and it was chilly.  And of course my "wonderful" navigation skills set the course through some scenic neighborhoods!  It just helped to make a great day more interesting.

The race course started with four miles of gravel, headed into about 3 miles of single track, and ended with grass, field roads.  I got there and did an easy mile warm up and went back and got my Gu before heading towards the start.  The mist had let up by the time we were called to the line.  I started about mid way in the group. We got the start and I'm not sure what came over me, but I took off like a woman possessed--very inspired.  I began weaving my way in and out of the runners in front of me and quickly found myself sitting in 3rd for women.  I was pacing the 2nd place woman comfortably, but knew I was going hard and at some point I would need to let up, but not quite yet.  I caught the girl in 2nd and stayed with her.  My watch beeped at mile one and I saw I was running a 7:20 something pace.  Oh my!  That's not what I run.  I eased up a little and the girl went in front of me.  I knew I was still going too fast to maintain the pace for the entire race.  My pace for the 2nd mile ended up around 7:39--still too fast for me.  I got slowed myself down for mile three and four, still on the gravel, and I felt much better.  I grabbed water and Gu'd at the rest stop around mile 4, before the course headed into the single track.  By this time I was sitting about 5th.  The condition of the single track really surprised me.  While there were no real hills, the ground had little ups and downs.  I kept thinking how much I wished I was on my cx bike, catching air off some of those little rollers.  The miles through the single track were very peaceful, going right next to the river.  I wished I could have slowed down to enjoy the view.  I began to struggle a bit mentally around mile six, because I got passed by three more ladies.  I hate getting passed.  I also knew my splits weren't negative.  These were my slowest miles of the race, one going at 9:01.  I came out of the woods and ran the paved path for a short bit before turning into the field.  I was not prepared for this section at all.  With the rain we had this weekend, the ground was soft and squishy.  It felt like running in quick sand and my legs quickly tired.  I wanted so badly to stop and walk but would let myself.  At one point through this section, the course was under water, calf deep--I did let myself walk that.  By then, the finish line was in site in the distance and I just kept pushing through.  By the time I could see the finish clock, it was at 1:14:23 and there was no way I was going to let it hit 1:15 on me.  I dug in and went harder to get in at 1:14:39. Results were: 31st overall, 9th woman, 1st in my age group.

Overall I'm very pleased with my run, but I know I need to work at my start--going out at a pace I can maintain and getting going harder if I feel good.  My pace was strong, especially considering the terrain. I also need to work on not letting my mind limit my body.  I've never been a "true runner" in my own mind, so running sub-8 scares the heck out of me.  I have a 5K this Sunday and my approach is going to be to go all out and really see what I can do.